More Signs of the End Times

Have the Democrats found an unlikely ally in their fight to overturn Perry's budget cuts?

First Chronic thought it had lost our own Mr. Dunbar to the dark side when he was caught agreeing with a Statesman op-ed. Now there seems to be some signs of agreement between House Democrat caucus chief Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, and his nemesis, Speaker Tom Craddick.

In one of his most controversial line item vetoes of SB1, the state budget for 2008-9, Gov. Rick Perry unilaterally dropped $154 million out of funding for community and junior colleges. This sum was intended to cover group insurance contributions for 2009: Perry argued that this wasn't the state's business but a local issue. This annoyed the community colleges, a bunch of state reps and Dunnam, who wrote to Craddick to get him to weigh in on the issue. As co-chair with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst of the Legislative Budget Board, he has the power to restore the cash.

Now Craddick has written back, and sent the letter to the media. While it's not a "hell yeah!" signing on to go two-on-one against the governor, he says that he backed the original appropriation and he's already trying to work on a solution with Perry, Dewhurst and the House to get it sorted. But don't get too giddy: he can only transfer funds, not create new cash or even put back the money the Lege approved in the first place. Oh, and he wants to get this sorted quickly, so that colleges know how to budget. Just to show he's still a Texas GOPer, he also notes that any solution doesn't involve a property tax rise.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

State Government, Education, State Budget, Taxes, Community Colleges, Tom Craddick, Rick Perry, Jim Dunnam

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